Senator Ehigie Uzamere represents Edo South senatorial district (the Binis) of Edo state in the senate.Â All kinds of rumour have been spread aboutÂ the man. He was accused of flirting with the Governor Adams Oshiomhole led Action Congress government in the state, particularly when he fought his two other colleagues from the state, Senators Odion Ugbesia (Central district) and Yisa Braimoh onÂ the floor of the senate on the issue of the state representative in the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
Uzamere backed Oshiomholeâ€™s nominee, Mr Donald Omorodion to the chagrin of Chief Tony Anenih. However, in this interview with Saturday Vanguard, Senator Uzamere explained his problem with Chief Anenih and declared that he will still run for the 2011 senatorial seat under the People Democratic Party. He declared he is a strong member of the Dr Samuel Ogbemudia faction of the PDP in the state, just asÂ he warned that no body can cow him out of the party. Excerpts:
We saw you talking with PDP leaders but there is this rumour that you have dumped the PDP?
I actually came to talk to my people and re_assure them that I am still a bonafide member of PDP and I am also going to contest the 2011 general election under the platform of the PDP. That is the essence of my going round explaining to them until the next two weeks when I will state to the entire Edo South senatorial district in a very grand style where all Bini people irrespective of party affiliation will be invited to come and listen to what Ehigie has done for three years.
Why this passion for Bini agenda
Well the Bini agenda has been with me since I was born and I have never deviated and my movement and my body language must have told you that I stand on the side of the Bini people.
How do hope to go into the election with a divided PDP
I think for now I do not believe in that reconciliation they did recently because it is one sided. You cannot go into reconciliation where you do not have Dr S.O.Ogbemudia or Admiral Akhigbe. If those people are not there, I do not believe that they are ready for reconciliation.
I believe that until we have a national chairman of the party, then we can go back to the drawing board and decide whether we want to remain one in PDP or not. But now, the division is still there and I am on the side of Dr Ogbemudiaâ€™s group, he is our father.
Are you not worried that Chief Anenih may want to stop you from going back to the senate?
I do not think so. I have been careful not to abuse any body I only address issues with him. He is well respected and can be my father. So I do not thinkÂ he will stop me, it is a Zion train. Chief Anenih is not a Bini man; it is only the Binis that can stop me not Chief Anenih.
Let me tell you, what is happening , I am trying to do what my people asked me to do and I have no regrets doing it. So if in the process of lifting people’s lives and trying to represent my people effectively and trying to protect the interest of BinisÂ Â in the course of these I have had problems with any leader in the state or outside, then I have no apologies in that regard.
But what actually was the problem between you and Chief Anenih?
The problem started when he said we should clear Hon. Jude Idehen who was an Action Congress candidate for the NDDC job. My goal at that time was to clear a PDP candidate that we initially agreed. Unfortunately, President Yar Adua of blessed memory sent in an AC candidate and I refused because I know that the PDP does not control the state and the only thing we need was the NDDC to be able to survive in the state.
But the other two senators in the state agreed with Chief Anenih that they should clear the AC candidate. And fortunately for me, I defeated the two senators (Odion Ugbesia and Alhaji Yisa Braimoh) at the floor of the senate. Two weeks after, I went to explain to him (Chief Anenih), even when the father and son relationship had broken down, which I thought he would have commended me for defending the PDP, rather he was angry with me for not taking his instructions to clear the young man.
And I knelt down to apologize to him, but he told me that he has forgiven me but we cannot be friends. So, I have no regrets over that. I do not know why he said so, he is an elderly man that is old enough to father me, but I have no regrets over that, I wish him well.
But donâ€™tÂ you not think that he may be angry that you have been fraternizing with Governor Adams Oshiomhole who is not in the PDP and it is possible that you may be defecting to the Action Congress like your two colleagues in the House of Representatives did recently?
The reason why I think they are leaving is because of the lack of internal democracy in the Edo state PDP. The PDP of Dan Orbih led executive has short changed the Binis. For instance, the Chairman, the Secretary and all the vital positions were held by the Anenih group and nothing for Dr Ogbemudia.
And what they gave to us in that executive is Deputy Chairman and Woman leader, that is not enough for us in Edo South even when we can boastÂ of more than 65 per cent of the population in Edo state. So I think that it is better for us to wait for the new Chairman of the PDP to emerge in Abuja to be able to decide what we are going to do next.
The two Honorable members are very close to me, I sympathize with their course and I wish them well. But I remain in PDP and nobody can cow me out of the party. And on the issue that I am fraternizing with AC members, I have friends in the AC and these people were PDP members before who were de_registered by the same leaders now who are trying to chase us out of the party but it will not work.
These people are my friends and if I want to go to the AC, I will do so publicly after consultations with my people. But for now, I am in the PDP. If I want to go to the AC, the entire Binis will know why I want to go to AC and I will give them the reasons. And if itÂ going toÂ happen it is going to be a Tsunami.
You said on Dr Ogbemudiaâ€™s declaration you stand, what do you mean by that?
Well, Dr Ogbemudia is our leader and father and he believes in the autonomy of the party in every senatorial district. And that is where I stand. There must be internal democracy in the state PDP where you allow leaders and the people of other districts to elect their representatives. Each senatorial district must be allowed autonomy of its own. Without that the party cannot go any where in the state.
You fought doggedly for a Bini man to become the Vice_Chancellor of the University of Benin (UNIBEN) for the first time, how were you able to achieve that?
The issue of the UNIBEN I can say is Godâ€™s decision because for over 39 years now, that the institution was established, we have not produced the Vice-Chancellor and when I was approached by the Bini elders on the issue, I took it upon my self, single handedly even when there were so many obstacles on the way.
I cannot imagine why the politics in the school has been that way. I cannot imagine that the Urhobos in Delta state stepped down for a Bini candidate but our brothers and sisters from the Central senatorial district in our own state refused to step down for a Bini man.
And yet in 2007 the Binis voted for their son Osunbor and left two Bini sons, Arigbe Osula, Charles Idahosa and Engr. Solomon Edebiri. We abandoned three great sons of Bini Kingdom and voted along with the party. But this time around, our eyes are open and we will decide what the Binis want.
We saw their game plan during the interview for the VCship of the UNIBEN, the only Binin man that was in the Governing Council was mysteriously removed and was replaced by an Esan man, Dr OlifoÂ who was already a Board member in a parastatal in Abuja. So what now happened was that you have no Bini man in the Governing Council but two Esans.
And they now removed the man from Edo North and brought some body from Niger State . So you now have two people from Esan in the Board, so how will a Bini man emerge as Vice_Chancellor. So I went further to ensure that that interview did not take place until the right thing is done. And it was that interview that we stopped that gave birth to a Bini man today becoming the Vice-Chancellor.
Today, I did it for God and the Bini ancestors. And today as we speak, I was told that a Bini woman has emerged as the Registrar. And if that is what I have done for the Binis, I am happy. And if that is the failure that Idahagbon who wants to contest the senate under PDP has said I am a failure, so be it. You should remember that Idahagbon is the senior legislative aide to Senator Ugbesia who is an Esan man.
So what they want to do is to bring in two Esan men in 2011 so that the issue of moving Orhiomnwon and Uhumnwonde Local Government Areas to Esan will be accomplished. But it will never be done. The Binis will never cede one inch of their land to the Central. As long as I remain the senator in this senatorial district.
But are you not being threatened with emergence of people like Daisy Danjuma in the race?
When I was not a Senator, Senator Daisy was a sitting Senator. But I was the only person that was bold enough to challenge her. I do not think that Daisy will complete the race. Our people are not fools. Daisy is a masquerade dancing and we know who is inside the masquerade.
I want Daisy to bring out her attendance when she was a Senator and I will bring my own. That will form the basis for the Binis to decide who they want. I have asked them to ask her where she was when we were fighting on the delineation issue. Of course she will not take part of the delineation because she is a creation of the cabal.